Early Childhood Coalition celebrates area teachers

Rainbows and Rhymes Preschool
Rainbows and Rhymes Preschool
Andria Grady/Journal Review Photos

“One giant party!” is how Lisa Walter, director of the Early Childhood Coalition, describes the annual Expo sponsored by the Coalition and the Montgomery County Community Foundation.

“It is our biggest event of the year to celebrate and encourage those dedicated to the childcare field,” Walter said.

This year’s event at the Masonic Cornerstone Grand Hall and Event Center on Aug. 26 brought together more than 65 area educators and community leaders to join in the fun. Attendees were treated to breakfast by The Juniper Spoon, a message from Mayor Todd Barton, a nationally recognized keynote speaker, swag bags filled with goodies, vendor visits, a science workshop, raffle prizes, gift cards, and networking opportunities. Four large grand prizes were given away at the end of the session.

Barton praised the Early Childhood Coalition for the impact the organization is having in Montgomery County.

“You are making a difference in these kids’ lives,” Barton said. “Thank you for your dedication and hard work.”

Walters gave special recognition to cohort students, working to advance their training and earn professional credentials. Those students include Jessica Pursell and Deb Northcutt, Hand in Hand Creative Learning; Audrianna Lang, Rainbows and Rhymes; Ashley Perry, Little Mountie Preschool; and Leanna Perry, Ladoga Elementary School.

Veteran vendor Tracy Johnson from Spark Learning Lab has participated in the event since its inception in 2021. Spark Learning Lab provides training, coaching and resources to childcare programs. 

“The day is a wonderful opportunity for the community to unite,” Johnson said. “I have been at this a long time, and I must say, Montgomery County is one of the best for community-driven support.”

Amanda Kennedy, Flourish Art Studio from Lafayette, was a newcomer to the event. The former teacher at Sugar Creek Elementary was on hand to inform teachers about workshops, products and classes for all ages.

“I like introducing products that parents and kids can enjoy,” Kennedy said.

Scented sensory dough was provided to every participant and was a massive hit with its marvelous smells. The pumpkin spice and caramel apple doughs were hot commodities traded around the tables like gold.

Desi Payne served as the keynote speaker and spoke to educators about coping strategies for stress and negative influences. Payne had the whole room dancing and laughing throughout her presentation. 

Lakeshore Learning’s Kristen Lopshire and Adrianna Kincaid then discussed how science can be utilized in the classroom and across all curriculas. Every attendee received the company’s $500 supply kit to create a science center in their classrooms.

Prizes from vendors and local businesses were given away throughout the day. Four large grand prizes also were raffled. Rainbows and Rhymes walked away with the Lakeshore Learning Mud Kitchen. The Fuzzy Bear Ministry Preschool and Daycare won the Lakeshore Learning Toddler Treehouse. The giant Magnatiles went to Montgomery County Head Start and the Market Stand to Happytown Daycare.

The last workshop by the Early Childhood Coalition will be conducted Nov. 1 at Hoosier Heartland State Bank Success Center. The topic will be “Positive Guidance in the Classroom,” presented by Dr. Elizabeth Schlesinger-Devlin and Dr. Megan Purcell, Purdue University. 

Programs hosted by the ECC are free. Information on upcoming opportunities can be found at Check for details and registration links often.